Rasheed Wallace: 2004 Pistons would 'run through' NBA today
The 2004 Detroit Pistons are probably the best defensive team in modern NBA history, but how would they fare in the fast-paced league of today?
According to Rasheed Wallace, they'd dominate.
"Oh, we'd run through them. Not even close," he said on the Timeout with Taylor Rooks podcast. "We play defense."
That Pistons team—with its core starting five of Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Rasheed Wallace and Ben Wallace—was really good, beating the heavily-favored but feuding Lakers in the 2004 NBA Finals. That postseason, they allowed just 80.7 points per game, which is hard to fathom 13 years later. Detroit made six consecutive Eastern Conference Finals. They probably should have won back-to-back NBA titles. (Speaking of defense, Rasheed Wallace left Robert Horry wide open behind the three-point line at the end of Game 5 of the 2005 NBA Finals. You know what happened next.)
Wallace went on to criticize the way the Warriors play defense.
“I think the Warriors’ defensive strategy is, I’m a put up more shots than you. And if you try to match that, then you assed out because they got exceptional shooters. So that’s their whole defensive thing. I don’t call it good defense if the man came down and he shot a jump shot or shot a three and missed it, and the Warriors went back down to the other end and scored it,” Wallace said, according to SLAM. “That’s not good defense, and that’s what happens a lot in this game now. They’re not shutting nobody down. Even though you can’t shut a scorer down—you can slow him down. With the way that we played in Detroit, we’d lock [players] down. The things that we did in Detroit will never be done again.”
The Warriors are one of the best teams ever, so I doubt the Pistons would "run through them," though I appreciate Rasheed's commitment to Detroit's defensive ethos. Sure, Golden State is powered by its stars, but they're willing to sacrifice for the greater good of the team—something that can't really be said for the 2003-04 Lakers. But I would have loved to watch Golden State face the 2004 Pistons, even just to see Zaza Pachulia and Ben Wallace go at it for 40 minutes.